Answers to some commonly asked questions about the Chinese privacy breach
Over the last few days, we’ve heard lots of concerns and questions from you about the security and privacy of chat communications in China. I hope that my previous post helped to explain the situation in more detail. What I’d like to do now is take a moment to address some of the most common questions we are hearing directly from you, and seeing asked in discussions around the Web.
What have you learned from TOM about the uploading and storing of certain chats, and what are you doing about it?
What we have discovered in our conversations with TOM is that they in fact were required to do this by the Chinese government. It is common knowledge that censorship does exist in China and that the Chinese government has been monitoring communications in and out of the country for many years. This, in fact, is true for the most common forms of communication such as emails, fixed and mobile phone calls, and instant messaging between people within China and between China and other countries. TOM, like every other communications service provider operating in China, has an obligation to be compliant with local laws if they are to be able to operate in China at all.
What Skype can and will do is to ensure that it is clear and transparent to Skype users that their chat messages into and out of China may be monitored and stored. We are looking into a number of ways to make this more clear to our users.
Will you continue to operate in China?
Yes. Our mission is to enable the world’s conversations. Nearly 1 in 6 people in the world live in China, and a great many of them rely on Skype to connect with families and friends, run businesses, and call people around the world. By and large, people in China are able to do this for free. We believe it would be unfair to deny users in China access to Skype.
Is Skype secure?
Yes. Skype-to-Skype conversations are among the most secure and private forms of communication publicly available today. In other words, the issues highlighted in recent reports do not affect any communications where all parties are using standard Skype software. They refer only to instant messaging communication in which one or more parties are using the co-branded TOM-Skype client software, distributed by TOM only in China.